Not all pro golfers want to land in the rough when it comes to their personal lives.
Just look at Darren Clarke, the Northern Irish-born pro who tragically lost his 39-year-old wife Heather to breast cancer in the summer of 2006, in the weeks before the Ryder Cup was hosted in Ireland for the first time at the K Club in Co. Kildare.
Clarke was named a wild card entry to the European team and won all his matches, adding a particularly poignant twist to the otherwise super-serious world of pro golf.
Now, three years later, the 41-year-old Clarke, a father of two sons, is happily involved with a former Miss Northern Ireland winner. He’s been dating Alison Campbell for the past couple of the months, and things seem to be going well.
"It's great to be home. I love seeing my family and friends but it's been made even more special to share this with a beautiful woman like Alison," Clarke told the press last week upon his return to Belfast. (He lives full time in England).
His new partner is equally besotted. "Things are going really well. We are enjoying each others company at the minute. We'll see how things go," said the divorced mother of two grown sons.
Clarke, who provided moral support earlier this year to fellow pro Phil Mickelson, whose wife and mother were battling breast cancer at the same time, received a great deal of encouragement from his friends on the European and PGA tours during Heather’s illness.
Chief among them was none other than Tiger Woods, though where he found the time to be such a caring guy is a mystery given all of his off the course activities.
"You can see why Darren had so much love for Heather," Woods said after Heather’s passing. "She's a very strong woman. It's a loss for everyone who ever got a chance to meet her and know her.
“I could not imagine going through that and watching someone that you were going to spend the rest of your life with deteriorate and go through the hardships and then eventually move on.” (Think it’s time for Tiger to start practicing what he preaches?)
You may remember that Mrs. Woods, Elin Nordegren, sued The Dubliner magazine after it published fake nude photos of her prior to the start of the Ryder Cup in Ireland. The accompanying ridiculous article was titled “Ryder Cup Filth for Dublin?”
Elin, however, came back swinging and sued the magazine. She won a groveling apology and financial settlement believed to be tens of thousands of euros, and donated all the money awarded to cancer charities in the memory of Heather Clarke.
"This regrettable episode in our lives in no way detracts from the great love of Ireland that Tiger and I share," Nordegren said afterwards.
As poor Elin has since discovered, far more regrettable episodes were yet to come.